Warning: Spoiler Alert
Elections have gotten rigged, most likely since they’ve held them, so how long until artificial intelligence systems can determine the outcome of a contest, despite the results of the actual ballots cast? At least in the universe that the CBS series “Person Of Interest,” exists in, that technology exists and Samaritan’s used it in the election that occurs during this episode. The system threw out the existing Governor of New York, giving the nod to his challenger, by the same margin that the polls said, that Governor James Murray would win by. “The Machine,” gives Harold Finch the number of Simon Lee, a pollster that works for the Murray campaign and in the ten elections he’s worked on, he’s predicted each race perfectly.
Lee’s track-record’s produced an extremely confident young man with a huge ego, who can’t conceive being incorrect in any election. However as the results come in, it’s apparent that the challenger Michelle Perez will score the upset. Murray’s campaign manager verbally rips Lee all throughout the night, until their disagreement dissolves into a fistfight. Murray separates the two and tells them to calm down.
NYPD Homicide Detective John Reilly’s been put on restricted duty after he shot his sixth person since being transferred from narcotics to homicide by Internal Affairs. He’s also assigned a police psychiatrist, whose approval he requires to return to the streets, which means that Reilly’s true identity, John Reese can’t help out the team in this situation. If Reese doesn’t cooperate, he’ll lose his job with the Police Department and his cover to remain hidden from Samaritan, so Finch gives the number to Sameen Shaw. As he hangs up the phone, he senses a presence and without turning around says good afternoon Miss Rhodes, as the woman who prefers to go by her nickname Root’s come to talk with Finch. She just finished an assignment given to her by “The Machine,” now she’s taking on the role of a reporter for the New York Herald, though she’s yet to find out what the assignment will involve.
Shaw’s pretending she’s a phone volunteer for the Murray campaign, but she’s clearly unhappy with the role, telling a potential voter the reason to reelect the Governor’s because he’s used Rogaine for thirty-years, which shows great foresight. She gets a call from Finch and tells her supervisor she needs a two-minute break for the call. She tells Harold how miserable she is, but Finch stresses that they need her in the campaign office to keep tabs on Lee.
The next scene’s a flashback for Finch, as he recalls the early days of building “The Machine,” and the difficulties that he and his late partner Nathan Ingram encountered trying to perfect the Artificial Intelligence System. We witness the first version coming to life on October 1, 2001, as Harold verifies that the system can see him and recognize him. He then poses a question to “The Machine,” a scenario that involves a couple broken down in the desert with the wife sustaining a broken leg, Finch then states if the man carries his wife, they have a 31% chance of survival, it rises to 40% if the man leaves his wife, what does “The Machine,” suggest the couple do. Although the increased chance of survival’s just nine percent higher, “The Machine,” says the man should leave his wife. Harold then deletes his prototype telling Nathan they’re back at square one, unless their system cares about people, it’s liable to attempt to rule humanity.
Although Perez wins the election to become the next Chief Executive of New York, Simon Lee’s convinced the election wasn’t on the level. Harold, Shaw and Root, all express concern, that Lee might embark on a very dangerous journey with his digging. They believe that Samaritan’s behind the controversial results and Lee will get targeted as an enemy by the Artificial Intelligence System that now receives an unfiltered feed of all United States intelligence. If Lee’s targeted as an enemy his life’s in jeopardy.
Root and Harold work together to find any dirt on Michelle Perez, to get her to resign from the office she just won and find out she got arrested for prostitution under another name when she was in her twenties, and reports that her services paid for her education. Harold tells Root that he’ll send the information to Perez anonymously, hoping that’s enough to cause her to resign. They attend the press conference held by the newly elected Governor and her Lieutenant Governor Nick Dawson, They also see that Simon Lee’s in the crowd and a woman they identify as an operative for Samaritan, is on the move, possibly to execute Lee. However, the pollster’s not her victim, she slipped Perez two medicines that caused a fatal reaction when combined and she collapses and dies at the beginning of her speech.
The now scared audience, starts to run out of the hall, Simon Lee among them and Shaw notices the Samaritan operative’s following the pollster. Because Samaritan’s concentrating so closely on Lee, the team can’t risk interacting with him any place there are security cameras, so Shaw bumps into Lee in a blind-spot. The Samaritan operative asks for directions and the Artificial Intelligence System sends her to the men’s room. She walks in with her pistol aimed and tells another occupant to leave, she kicks open a stall and find’s Lee’s phone siting on the toilet.
We witness more bumps in the road for Harold and Nathan as they attempt to fine-tune “The Machine,” as the system tries to take over their computers with a virus and in an attempt to determine which of the 43-prototypes are viable to take the next step, the systems try destroying each other, while setting Harold and Nathan’s severs aflame. Harold looks at Ingram and tells him they’ve taught it to think, now they’ve got to get it to care.
Lee realizes his life’s in danger, although he doesn’t know whose trying to kill him, so he gets off the street and into a hotel. Finch disables the security cameras so Samaritan can’t find him, for now at least the pollster’s safe. Harold also disabled all electronic accessibility in Simon’s room, so the pollster can’t use the phone or his laptop, hence keeping him hidden. A maid knocks on the door and Lee answers it, asking if he can borrow her cellphone for an emergency call. He calls 911 and says his name, but Finch terminates the call. “The Machine,” speaks to Root and tells her Samaritan intercepted the signal and the operatives are on their way.
Root and Finch then talk about what’s taken place over the past year, as Samaritan replaced “The Machine,” as the United State’s Government’s intelligence system. She tells Harold he was wrong when he told her in an earlier conversation, that she seemed lost, she tells him she’s terrified because they’re losing and their lives as well as the fate of the world’s at stake. She says even if they defeat Samaritan, odds are low that the entire team could survive the battle.
She then tells Finch because of her past, which she dedicated to killing, robbing and scamming people, she deserves to die. In a huge moment in the series, Harold tells her, it’s where you end up, not where you start that counts. He tells her she’s a brilliant woman, a comrade and a friend, a huge leap for a man that got kidnapped twice by Root. We see the warmth between them rise to the surface, as Harold finally admits what’s been apparent for a while, that Finch identifies closely with her and thinks of her as somewhat of a surrogate daughter. She grabs six pistols, sticks then into the band of her slacks and tells Harold to wish her luck. It rings far too familiar for fans of the series, as the scene echoes a moment between Reese and Detective Joss Carter last season, just before she got murdered by a corrupt cop.
Root heads out to the hallway and “The Machine,” tells her the Samaritan operative Martine’s directly below her, so Root grabs two pistols and starts shooting through the floor. The operative gets out of the line of fire and an associate restores all the video feeds in the hotel, so now Samaritan can locate both Lee and the person shooting at Martine. Shaw arrives at the hotel and calls Reese, telling him that she needs him at the hotel immediately, she then shots a Samaritan operative, but turns around to see another with his pistol pointed at her head. Reese shows up just in time shooting the other operative.
Martine and Root continue their gun-battle when Finch contacts her calling her Root for the first time, instead of addressing her by her legal surname, Miss Groves (which seemingly increases the odds she’ll get killed in this battle.) She tells Harold she’s fine, Lee’s gotten rescued by Reese and Shaw, who knock him out and leave him in the dumpster behind Simon’s office. We watch another exchange of gunfire and can see that Root’s taken at least one hit, as Martine runs out of the building.
The next morning Detective John Reilly meets Dr. Iris Campbell for another therapy session and she tells him he’s either got a death wish or a hero-complex and tells Reilly he can’t save everybody, but he tells her he has to. He tells the doctor about all the evil in the world and the lack of good guys to combat it, so he has to protect and defend the innocent. He then tells Campbell he knew a detective who was the finest cop he ever met, whose only concern was protecting others and he couldn’t save her, so he ties easing his conscience by saving as many people as he can. The doctor tells Reese they’re making progress.
Back at the team’s headquarters, Reese receives a happy surprise when Root comes in with her arm in a sling, the only injury she suffered in the battle. She then tells Harold that he needs to reconnect with “The Machine,” but he tells her, that her interaction with it has changed it, it now has a voice thanks to Root and he’s intimidated by his creation, he then tells her he went through dozens of prototypes, before he finally realized the only way “The Machine,” would serve the purposes that Nathan and he desired, he had to cripple his creation. Root replies that “The Machine’s,” aware of that and still wants to interact with her creator.
The final scene has Harold walking on the street, stopping when he reaches a security camera. He looks into the lens and says it’s about time the two of them talk.
The Story Continues Next Tuesday at 10:00 pm on CBS.